Crowdsourcing Just Punishment for Julian Assange
TRANSCEND MEMBERS, 20 Jan 2020
In Faithful Christian Retribution for Daring to Speak Truth to Power
20 Jan 2020 – In anticipation of the dramatic outcome of the Trial of Julian Assange (2019)
In a period of so-called just war, with which forms of “just torture” are increasingly evident, the concern in what follows is how best to reflect the highest democratic principles in those countries most inspired by the highest Christian values — and most implicated in the outcome of the trial of Julian Assange for having spoken truth to power. Those democratic principles now suggest that any consideration of the appropriate punishment of Assange, following his anticipated trial in the USA, should be decided by the American people as a whole — employing the latest crowdsourcing processes and technology, now so widely available. As a country founded by Christians and primarily inspired by Christian values — so fundamental to the sworn testimony in court proceedings — it is especially appropriate to seek inspiration from the forms of retribution with which Christian authorities have been traditionally associated in the USA, and most notably from the time of the Founding Fathers.
The Year 2020 should see the final outcome of the legalistic proceedings to which Julian Assange has been exposed since the sexual assault allegations in Sweden in 2010 and his subsequent asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London — ending in his removal into UK custody in April 2019, pending extradition to Sweden, and in all probability to the USA. Assange had been secretly indicted in the USA by a grand jury, for computer-related crimes committed in the USA in 2012 (as publicly revealed in 2017),
These are all matters of extensive public record and widespread discussion, following the controversial release by WikiLeaks of Iraq and Afghanistan diplomatic cables and war logs between 2006 and 2009, variously enabled by Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden. With respect to the legal situation and imprisonment of Assange, notable events include:
- The Inter-American Court of Human Rights issued an advisory opinion in May 2018, upholding the principle of non-refoulement, with respect to the Institution of Asylum and its Recognition as a Human Right in the Inter-American System, which prohibits signatories of the American Convention on Human Rights from deporting foreign individuals when such a deportation would likely lead to their persecution.
- The United Nation’s Working Group on Arbitrary Detention concluded on 5 February 2016 that Assange had been subject to arbitrary detention by the UK and Swedish Governments since 7 December 2010, including his time in prison, on conditional bail and in the Ecuadorian embassy.
- U.N. Rapporteur: Julian Assange Has Faced Psychological Torture; He Should Not Be Extradited to U.S. (Democracy Now, 22 November 2019)
- Benn Quin: Sweden drops Julian Assange rape investigation (The Guardian, 19 November 2019)
Commentators tend to agree that Assange will indeed be extradited to the USA, whether directly from the UK or indirectly via Sweden — most notably in the light of the inferred pattern of complicity between those countries and the emerging attitude to legal retribution in selected cases. This contrasts radically with the impunity ever more evident with respect to crimes against humanity:
- K. Security Service Can Let Informants Commit Crimes, Court Rules, (The New York Times, 21 December 2019)
- MI5 can lawfully tell agents to commit crimes (The Independent, 30 December 2019)
- Britain’s Security Services Granted License to Kill (Strategic Culture, 27 December 2019).
- Presidential Pardons: Trump sets his seal on a record of US impunity in Afghanistan (Afghan Analysts Network, 20 November 2019)
- Trump’s pardons erode good order and discipline and could shatter the military’s reputation, veterans say (Business Insider, 27 November 2019)
- Trump Considers Pardoning Blackwater Mercenary Convicted of Murder (Daily Beast, 3 January 2020)
In envisaging the options for retribution, which may inspire and engage the American people through the crowdsourcing process, consideration should naturally be given to the forms of punishment with which Christian authorities have been associated in the USA. These naturally range from the treatment of heretics, slaves, anti-Americans, and those indicted as terrorists.
However, as noted in the introductory document regarding the trial of Julian Assange as a collective psychodrama, there is a strong case for recognizing how that grand jury trial echoes in the strangest of ways that of the Sanhedrin of biblical times and the manner in which Pontius Pilate delegated final retribution to the Jewish people. Just as some cultures continue to celebrate that process whereby a mockingly-acclaimed “King of the Jews” was crowned for speaking truth to power — as enacted in the Oberammergau Passion Play in Switzerland — the trial of Assange merits similar appreciation by the American people of Christian persuasion or recognizing Christian leadership.
A degree of legitimacy to this exploration is offered by the sense in which the President of the United States frequently describes as a “witch-hunt” the nature of the legal and other attacks on himself and his office — especially in the quest for his impeachment, in a period which is liable to coincide with the trial of Assange. Given that framing, how indeed should retribution be envisaged by the American people of Christian faith, given the history of Christian complicity in processes of radical retribution — dating from the Hammer of the Witches |(1487), the Inquisition, through the Salem Witch Trials (1693), and the treatment of slaves in the USA, to the CIA Torture Report (2012) on the processing of those held at Guantanamo Bay and in “black sites” elsewhere.
The aesthetics of the psychodrama, and the poetic justice of its enantiodromia, are all the greater with the increasing degree of identification of the American people with the Jewish people — now deliberately enhanced by the recent transfer of the US Embassy to Jerusalem and approval of the controversial declaration of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people in 2018 further to its long-standing tradition of a Jewish homeland (Jewish nation state: Israel approves controversial bill, BBC, 19 July 2018; Joel Swanson, Trump’s Executive Order Shows Again That He Thinks American Jews Are Displaced Israelis, Forward, 11 December 2019; Judith Butler, Trump Elevates an Anti-Semitic Slur Into Law, Foreign Policy, 21 December 2019; UN: Israel’s Jewish Nation-State Law contravenes international pact, Middle East Monitor, 7 November 2019).
The argument notes the emergence of “crowdsourcing justice”, particularly through use of a participative, open-platform, Wiki process. This is proposed as specifically relevant to the post-trial punishment of Julian Assange. Such a platform offers the possibility of enabling popular familiarity with the extensive range of methods of torture actively developed by Christians of the past and present. However it is also recognized as enabling collective choice by the American people of the methods most “liked” as being applicable to the suitable punishment of Assange — whether for the good of society or for his own good from a Christian perspective of redemption and salvation.
Perverse Complicity in Christian Celebration of Pain?
Tags: Activism, Assange, Big Brother, Ecuador, Human Rights, Journalism, Justice, Media, Surveillance, Sweden, Torture, UK, UN, USA, Violence, Whistleblowing, WikiLeaks
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